Bone shortening of clavicular fractures: comparison of measurement methods

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BACKGROUND: The indication for operative treatment of clavicular fractures with bone shortening over 2 cm is much debated. Correct measurement of clavicular length is essential, and reliable measures of clavicular length are therefore highly requested by clinical decision-makers. The aim of this study was to investigate if three commonly scientifically used measurement methods were interchangeable to each other.

METHODS: A retrospective study using radiographs collected as part of a previous study on clavicular fractures. Two independent raters measured clavicle shortening on 60 patients using conventional radiographs on two separate sessions. The two measurement methods described by Hill et al. and Silva et al. were used on unilateral pictures. Side difference measurements according to Lazarides et al. were made on panoramic radiographs. The measurements were analyzed using intraclass correlation, Weir's protocol for Standard error of measurement (SEM) and minimal detectable change (MDC), and Bland-Altman plots.

RESULTS: None of the methods were directly interchangeable. The side difference method by Lazarides et al. was the most reliable of the three methods, but had a high proportion of post-fracture bone lengthening that indicated methodological problems. The Hill et al. and Silva et al. methods had high minimal detectable change, making their use unreliable.

CONCLUSION: As all three measurement methods had either reliability or methodological issues, we found it likely that differences in measurement methods have caused the differences in clavicular length observed in scientific studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number537
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2017

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